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Police associations sending out survey to gauge morale

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PHOENIX (CBS5) -

Is morale at an all-time low within the Phoenix Police Department? Have officers lost faith in Chief Daniel Garcia? We will know the answers to these questions very soon, thanks to a survey employees are completing right now.

Like so many of us in this tough economy, police officers have had it pretty rough the last couple of years. So two police unions want to know how officers are feeling and will later present it to city management.

"I talk to lots of officers, day in, day out, obviously they're challenging times," said Joe Clure, president of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, or PLEA. We talked to his group last week when the Phoenix City Council heard the first draft of the 2013 fiscal year budget.

If the food tax expires early, the department is looking at massive cuts.

"Right there you're talking about 99 police officers being laid off," Clure said.

Recently, Phoenix's finest have had to deal with a hiring freeze, less boots on the ground, a pay cut, uniform change, discrimination accusations against the department, threats of a schedule change and the elimination of workout time and take-home vehicles for some officers.

So can the police department handle any more blows?

"I'll be able to answer that question to a greater degree of specificity with the survey we are conducting," Clure said.

PLEA, along with the Phoenix Police Sergeants and Lieutenants Association, is asking members to complete a 25-question, web-based survey to gauge their opinions on leadership and morale.

We're told questions will deal specifically with how Garcia is doing and how officers feel about day-to-day things like uniforms and rotations.

"If officers don't feel safe or feel supported or getting what they feel is a fair salary, no different from anyone else, you go to work and it's hard to be motivated," law enforcement consultant Paul Penzone said. He said these surveys are not unusual and that if most officers are feeling down and out about their jobs, we should all be concerned.

"If you go to work and you're distracted or your morale is down, it can impact your ability to be on high alert and execute your responsibilities at the highest level," Penzone said.

The two associations hired local WestGroup Research to conduct the survey. Officers are just now getting their notifications in the mail. We'll stay on this story and let you know the results.

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